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Huntsville business owner wins 1st place in elevator pitch contest
"We make mechanical and optical products for the automotive aftermarket. Our first product is the Auto Stop Lamp. 'Auto' having two meanings. It's a brake light for automobiles and it automatically lights up when the vehicle slows down. This is a direct fit replacement for the original bulb that reduces your chances of being rear-ended. We are seeking our first round of investment this summer and would love to have you on board as an investor. I'm Jeff Hammock with MECHoptix. Protecting your vehicle, your precious cargo and you."

That was MECHoptix, Inc. founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Hammock's winning one-minute pitch during the annual BizTech Elevator Pitch contest April 30. Hammock, who competed with entrepreneurs across north Alabama, won first place, $2,500 cash and three free months of office space at BizTech, a business incubator in Huntsville. Reba Johnson, owner of Spas, Etc., took second place.

An elevator pitch is a quick, concise synopsis of what you – or your company – do, typically in one minute or less. The pitch got its name years ago in larger cities as professionals had to think of something to say while standing in elevators of office buildings.

Hammock, whose business was incorporated in October, took the FastTrac NewVenture Comprehensive Entrepreneurial Program and received training from the Women's Business Center of North Alabama last fall as he was starting his business.

Hammock took part in the elevator pitch contest in 2012, but he didn't do well, so he honed his pitch during the 10-week FastTrac program to prepare for this year's event.

"The course enabled me to quantify just how unprepared my tech start-up was in specific areas," he said. "Tim Knox, the course facilitator, did a great job covering the Kauffman Foundation course material while sprinkling in stories from his experiences and the experiences of others in the local area. I connected with several of the instructors and even maintain regular contact with Knox."

BizTech holds the annual event each year for local start up companies. WBCNA President and CEO Joanne Randolph said the competition is tough among businesses who take part in the contest, but entrepreneurs who take time to prepare typically fare well in the competition.

"It's essential for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the resources available in our local community," she said. "Business coaching and training help refine and perfect an elevator pitch, and it is the biggest advantage in winning the hearts of new investors and customers every day."